Last Updated on Monday, 28 August 2017, 18:50 by Denis Chabrol
A day after government publicly called on the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) to conduct frequent random checks of aircraft and pilots, that regulatory agency announced that it would be intensifying its oversight of domestic carriers.
The moves by government followed Sunday’s plane crash- the third in just over one month- that claimed the life of Pilot Imran Khan when the Air Services Limited’s Cessna 206 fell through the high and thick forest canopy several miles from Mahdia.
“The Director General of the GCAA, Lt. Col. (ret’d) Egbert Field, said that surveillance and inspection of air operators, aircraft and other aspects of aviation operations will continue with more frequency” the GCAA said in a statement.
The Authority plans to meet with all domestic operators on Wednesday August 30, 2017 “to discuss safety issues and other matters in light of this latest accident.”
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon on Sunday said the GCAA Director-General has been asked to ensure there are more frequent inspections of aircraft, pilots and the facilities they use to ensure that there is a higher level of safety in these operations. “We, as a small country, cannot continue to lose young men in the prime of their lives to accidents,” he said.
Harmon said government wants Field to increase [the] level of investigation and oversight over all of the operators to ensure that aircraft serviceability and time and hours of the pilots are checked regularly.
The GCAA said the Accident and Incident Investigation Group (AIG) “will examine all possible areas that could have contributed to the occurrence of this latest accident including weather condition, pilot’s flight and duty hours, and the type of operations the pilot was conducting.”
Demerara Waves has been told that the Cessna 206, bearing registration markings 8R-GFM, was shuttling between Chai-Chai and Mahdia went it went down.
Preliminary reports, said the GCAA, indicated that the plane was scheduled to land at Mahdia at approximately 08:47hrs but failed to do so. A distress signal was received at approximately 09:08hrs which initiated a search operation by all domestic operators within the vicinity of the last known location of the aircraft.
The crash site was positively identified at 12:56hrs and a team from the Guyana Defence Force was deployed to the area to recover the pilot. Due to the conditions of the terrain, the rescue team had to trek for approximately 3 hours cutting through thick vegetation to reach the crash site from the landing zone.
The rescue team recovered the body of Captain Khan late yesterday afternoon.
The GCAA says it has commenced the State Safety Programme (SSP) as mandated by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and is presently at the implementation stage. The elements of the SSP was introduced to service providers at a workshop held in July 2017 as a precursor for the Safety Management System (SMS) which all operators are expected to implement.
The regulatory and oversight agency says it continues to be proactive, and is diligently working with airline operators to ensure that their SMS programmes develop and function effectively. “The successful implementation of SSP and SMS will help to identify the hazards within the aviation sector and manage risks to the safety of passengers, operators and the aircraft.”
The GCAA assures that it remains committed to creating a safe, secure and modern civil aviation sector, and reducing the current number of aircraft accidents.